Educational Research and EducationalReform in BangladeshIntroduction:The beginning of human race and down of civilization, human beings hadbeen inquisitive to explore, innovate, discover and invent things beyondperception and imagination. To get things done, Man has lots of quarries andto get the answers, man has to search for. Since then, research works havecome into force. In the present changing world, ‘Research towards reforms’is demand of the day. The need for research was never more felt as it is nowin order to search for the desired goals for MDG(Millennium DevelopmentGoal) , EFA ( Education for All) , NSPR ( National Strategies for PovertyReduction) . Amid rapidly changing social environments and conflictingopinion, research before reform has become a very important issue of theday. Evidence based policy and evidence based practice –these two termsmay be used as tools to research the desired goals which may open wide intothe world of research and may have impact in a direct or indirect way wherefindings are applied in research –oriented policy or practice.Constitutional provision for Education:The constitutional provisions of education system of Bangladesh are:o To establish a uniform, mass-oriented and universal education and toextend free and compulsory education to all children to such a stage as maybe determined by law.o To relate education to the needs of society and to produce trained andmotivated citizens to serve these needs.o To remove illiteracy within such time as may be determined by law.Since the emergence of Bangladesh there have been as man as fiveeducations commissions / committees but a permanent educationcommission is yet to be formed. The major general set in the reports/documents are:o To produce trained motivated, worthy and productive citizens for thecountry.o To turn the population of the country into human resources within theshortest possible time.o To inculcate moral, human, social and religion values in the learners.
o To help flourish democratic consciousness in the learners through to learnof other opinions and ideas and fostering life –oriented objectives andpositive attitude towards man and society.o To accomplish learners overall growth and development and enhancetheir creativity.At present the entire education system of Bangladesh has been split out forHuman Resources Development (HRD) and Poverty Reduction i.e. PRSPwhich has recently renamed NSPR.Structure of the Education SystemEducation in Bangladesh has three major stages - primary, secondary andhigher education. Primary education is a 5-year cycle while secondaryeducation is a 7-year one with three sub-cycles: 3 years of junior secondary,2 years of secondary and 2 years of higher secondary. The entry age forprimary is 6 years. The junior secondary, secondary and higher secondarystages are designed for age groups 11-13, 14-15 and 16-17 years. Highersecondary is followed by higher education in general, technical, technologyand medical streams requiring 5-6 years to obtain a Maters degreeStreams of the Education SystemPrimary level education is provided under two major institutionalarrangements (stream): general & madrasa. Secondary education has threemajor streams: general, technicalvocational and madrasa. Higher deduction,likewise, has 3 streams: general (inclusive of pure and applied science, arts,business and social science), madrasa and technology education. Technologyeducation, in its turn, includes agriculture, engineering, medical, textile,leather technology and ICT. Madrasa functioning parallel to the three majorstages have similar core courses as in the general stream (Primary,Secondary and Postsecondary) but have special emphasis on religiousstudies.Educational Research: An overviewThe need of research for the development of education was well reflected inthe Education Commission Report of 1974. During the 2nd 5year plan(1980-85) education research gathered momentum with governmentinitiative for Regional Workshops/ Seminars on specific educational issues.Education oriented inter-country visits sponsored by UNESCO intensifiedthe felt need for undertaking educational research for extending support topolicy formulation. Under Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme ofthe government several formative & summative evaluation studies were
carried on by local researchers - thus preparing the ground for continuingresearch works. Govt. bodies like Planning Commission, Donor Agencieslike USAID, ADB, SIDA/CIDA became interested in pre-appraisal studiesfor future projects & impact studies for on-going projects. These activitieshelped to expand the scope of education research.The process for educational research gained further impetus during the 3rd5year plan (1985-90) and during the 4th 5year plan (1990-95) it opened intonew opportunities.Research capacity building and research institutionsFor capacity building in research area, "research methodology" courses havebeen incorporated about three decades back in tertiary level educationcurricula which renders a positive impact on the learners and in creating abody of social researchers.Other donor agencies, NGOs & autonomous research organizationscommission research works on consultancy basis by expert individuals &local firms. There are specialized research institutes in public universities(e.g IER, DU)1 and research units in a few agencies under the Ministry ofEducation (like NAEM). Other research organization that deserve mentionhere are:1. Centre for Policy Dialogue(CPD)2. Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS)3. Foundation for Research on Educational Planning & Development(FREPD)4. Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC)5. The Institute of Education & Research (IER)6. National Academy for Primary Education (NAPE)7. National Academy for Educational Management (NAEM)The research activities of the first three organizations cover almost all socio-economic issues including education. The research programmes of the lastfour organizations, however, have education and training as their focus.Research studies conducted by these agencies provide input in decisionmaking and policy framing. However, the system of interlinking educationpolicy framing and reforms with research finding has not been firmlyinstitutionalized.Education Research and ReformsA major intervention in primary education was made in 1986 when studieswere undertaken on primary education to make it need-responsive and time-befitting. The reform that resulted from this intervention was the remodelingof the primary education curriculum. From a traditional mode the curriculum
was transformed into a competency based one brining in radical changes inboth pedagogy and learner assessment system. A major reforms in theeducation sector occurred in the area of secondary curriculum in 1996. TheCurriculum Implementation Task Force constituted for the purpose, met inlarge groups involving all stakeholders, small groups of experts andorganized Focus Group Discussions (FGD). The findings of these researchworks were: (i) education standard is not up to the international level, (ii)acute moral degradation is observed in the youths, (iii) education is not job-oriented (iv) education is not helpful to fully exploit the potentials of thelearners. To address these, the following reforms in the secondarycurriculum were initiated: (i) establishing equivalence of education(curriculum) standard to the international level (ii) inculcating values intothe curriculum (iii) curriculum to be made need based and job-oriented (iv)curriculum to be designed in such a way that learners potential is exploitedto the fullest extent. On the basis of these research findings, secondarycurriculum had been reformed and revised in 1996.A turning point in the area of linkage between education research and reformis observed towards the end of the last century. A very structured educationreform program had been undertaken at the advent of the new century.Ministry of Education assisted by IDA, undertook a reforms packagecovering four major areas:(i) Area 1: Effective System Management(ii) Area 2: Teacher Recruitment, Education and Training(iii) Area 3: Curriculum and Textbook(iv) Area 4: Vocational Educational and TrainingThe MOE-IDA decided to commission research studies on the broad areas toidentify specific reform areas. Roundtables of all stakeholders, GOB-WBmeet, small group expert meetings were the mechanisms for identification ofspecific areas for reforms. Decision was taken to carry out intensive studieson the identified areas so as to extend strong research support to reforms.The areas of study ultimately identified were:1. Effective System management : Funding Formula for MPO2 (Linkingsalary subvention for teacher to their performance)2. Effective System management : Devolution of Administrative Functions3. Effective System management : Rationalization of Facilities Department(FD)4. Teacher recruitment, education and training: Establishment of TeacherRecruitment, Deployment and Education Authority
5. Establishing Teacher Standards and Incentives6. Improving curriculum and textbook: Bifurcation of National Curriculumand Textbook Board (NCTB)7. Improving curriculum and textbook: Creation of Independent TextbookApproval Authority.8. Improving technical-vocational education and training: Autonomy forTechnical and Vocational Education and Training Institutions9. Development of a Medium Term Policy framework for Education.Teams comprising both national and international experts conducted 9studies on the above 9 areas. On the basis of the study reports reformmeasures were undertaken. In addition, MOE on its own, undertook anumber of reforms during the period 2002- 2006. These reforms, asmentioned below are also based on focused studies on five relevant areas.The reforms that were materialized include: (i) reforms of different agenciesunder the MoE regarding their functioning (ii) improving economicconditions of non-government teachers through the introduction of teacherbenefit, (iii) ensuring and strengthening community involvement ineducation management and local supervision, (iv) setting up an EducationalCommission for overall reforms of education sector, (v) enhancingcompetencies education functionaries and teachers through extensive andintensive in-service training package.Of these institutes NAEM, IER, NAPE, BRAC have done a significantnumber of studies on the burning issues of education. NAEM has conducted23 research works over the last five years, all related to current policy,relevant research & discussion in education dealing with most current issues.IER of University of Dhaka is basically an institution for teacher education.IERs objective is to promote and provide facilities for advanced study andresearch education. It also brings out journal which publishes researchworks. BRAC, the largest local NGO having countrywide network of workcenters, has been conducting, research work mainly on non-formal and adultliteracy .It has a database and a bulletin on research component forevaluation of its programmes. FREPD is a research organization with themain focus upon educational planning and development has done a numberof valuable researches.Reforms in EducationGovt. had undertaken programmes and activities for enhancement of bothquality & quantity of Primary, Secondary & Tertiary levels. Regardingquantity, a number of projects have been undertaken particularly for
increasing the participation of girls in the capacities of both students &teachers. These have resulted in the expansion in the number of educationalinstitutions, teachers & students & also in achieving gender parity both atthe primary secondary levels of education. All these projects andprogrammes were undertaken based on the findings of need-based studieReforms in Primary Educationo Nationalization of Primary EducationThe general goal for primary education is to help in the physical, mental,social, spiritual, moral human & aesthetic development of the children ofBangladesh & inspire them to have a vision for a prosperous life. With thisend in view the govt. in 1974 enacted a law titled " The PrimarySchools(Taking Over) Act , 1974 and nationalized primary education,making it free, placed it under a centralized administration and made theteachers state employees.o Compulsory Primary EducationIn 1990 the Govt passed a law in Parliament, the Primary Education(Compulsory) Act, and made primary education compulsory from 1992onwards.o Ensuring access of children into primary systemThe attempt started almost three years back for streaming poor and poorestchildren into the system, measures like "Food for Education" wasintroduced. It started showing remarkable achievements. NER enhancedfrom 77% in 1999 to 87% currently. The Food for Education programme hasbeen replaced by Children Stipend Programme where Second PrimaryEducation Development Program (PEDP II)This program extends from 2003 to 2009 and represents a major strategy inthe GoBS EFA and poverty reduction agenda through the provision ofUniversal Primary Education and sustainable socio-economic developmentand equity in Bangladesh. The major interventions under this program,designed to improve the quality of primary education, include rebuilding,renovation and expansion of the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE),the National Academy for Primary Education(NAPE) and 54 PrimaryTraining Institutes (PTIS) with the provision of computers and furniture,construction of new Upazilla Resource Centres (URCs), new and larger classrooms, sanitation facilities, supplying of text books, on time to all students,training for teachers and SMC members
Reforms in Secondary educationThe general goal for secondary education is to accomplish learners overallgrowth & development. The govt. made different interventions over theyears in order to enhance the quality of education at secondary level.o Privatization of Textbook publishingAn Independent Textbook Evaluation Committee (ITEC) independent ofNCTB has been formed to ensure standardization of quality of textbooks forthe learners at secondary level.o School based Assessment (SBA)In the existing system of assessment learners are usually assessed mainly inthe cognitive domain. With the introduction of School Based Assessment(SBA) six relevant skill areas have identified for learners assessment. Theyare - thinking, probing, personality, communications, cooperation &socialization.o School Performance Based Management (SPBM)It is a modern management method. Through SPBM performance ofstudents, teachers & others is assessed to ensure improvement of secondaryeducation. The objective of SPBM is to assist schools to themselves improvetheir performance through systematically addressing identified internalproblems.o Reorganization of GPA SystemThe GPA system had been introduced in the school final examinations in2001 and at the higher secondary level subsequently. Before thisintroduction, the learners were ranked on the basis of absolute markingsystem. This has ensured correct judgments of the merits of the students.o Introduction of ICT in EducationTo keep pace with the fast moving world & to popularize science &technology education, government has taken lots of interest in the field ofInformation & Communication Technology. Steps had been taken to providecomputers to educational institutions and education offices at district level.As a result flow of education information has been expedited.o Female Stipend Projects 1994 till dateWith a view to enhance girls participation in secondary and highersecondary education, Govt. provided stipends to female students through anumber of female secondary stipend projects covering the enter country.o Ensuring 30% female participation in the teaching forceIn addition to the 60 per cent provision of female teachers recruitment inprimary education, the govt. has implemented the decision to recruit 30%female teachers in different levels of secondary education. In order to
facilitate the earmarked intake projects like Programme to Motivate, Train &Employ Female Teachers (PROMOTE) was undertaken.o Widening scope for girls educationIn the technical education sub-sector, a total of six new girls polytechniqueinstitutions have been established to enhance the coverage of girls in thetechnical education. In the year 2001-2005 the total number of Polytechnique institutions stands at 37 and that of vocational institutes to 64 asagainst 20 and 51 in 2001. The number of teachers & students increasedcorrespondingly. The establishment of Asian University of Women atChittagong will provide world class university education of women for theAsia region & promote the stream of trained women leaders. The project isunder implementationo Foreign Language Training CentreWith a view to develop human resources in terms of language andcommunication skills, a project for establishment of language labs has beenundertaken. Under this project 10 modern language labs are beingestablished in 10 districts and divisional headquarters to impart English,Arabic and other languages for the unemployed youths seeking jobs outsidethe country.o Recent Interventions in Secondary educationThe govt. made different interventions over the years in order to enhance thequality of education at secondary level. The two most recent interventionsare: Teaching Quality Improvement Project (TQI) & Secondary EducationSector Development (SESDP) Project.o Teaching Quality Improvement in Secondary Education Project (TQI-SEP) (2004-2011) Launched in April 2005, the project aims at bringingqualitative change at secondary level education by improving the standard ofteacher education & recruitment process. Under the project all untrainedsecondary teachers in the country will be trained up. The head teachers &school managers like chairman & member of SMC will also be givenprofessional development training on pedagogy & educationaladministration. The project will ensure in- service, pre service & continuoustraining for the professional development of the classroom teachers.o Non-Govt. Teacher Registration & Certification Authority (NTRCA)This project has addressed two very important long-standing issues ofsecondary education. One of the issues relate to recruitment of qualityteachers & teacher registration. One of the major problems that secondaryeducation undergoes is that the low quality teachers outnumbered quality
teachers resulting in low quality of education. The parliament has alreadyenacted the Non-Government Teacher Registration & CertificationAuthority Act 2005. The purpose of the Authority is to ensure therecruitment & appointment of quality teachers at the secondary level &brining them under the fold of registration which was never done in the past.Henceforth teachers will need to be registered with the Authority for gettinginto the teaching profession.o National Teacher Education Authority (NTEA)The second issue is regarding the establishment of a National TeacherEducation Authority for coordination of all teacher training activities in thecountry. This authority will also plan, design & develop various teachereducation & training programmes for teacher preparation at the secondarylevel. These interventions are expected to change the quality scenario ofsecondary education remarkably.o Secondary education Sector Development Project (SESDP), 2007-2013The overall objective of the project is to contribute to poverty reduction inBangladesh through improving the relevance of secondary education to thedemands of the labour market, by strengthening management, accountability& transparency in secondary education. The other objectives encompass theimprovement of curriculum, equity and access of secondary education.o Reforms in Tertiary EducationMeasures have been taken to ensure monitoring the standard of highereducation system and institutions through the established Accreditationcouncils. The UGC3 has been entrusted with this responsibility.Problems and ChallengesNational Training Policy 2003 permits all the training institutes ofBangladesh to spend 10% of its total budget on research works. Stillresource constraint remains there. Lack of trained manpower, paucity offund hinder pursuing educational research. Educational research is yet todevelop as a profession. Linkage between educational research &educational reform is not yet well established. No central agency is there topreview research proposal & judge their merits nor is there any place whereto collect & preserve research reports. However, the public researchinstitutions like IER, NAEM, BIDS, NAPE, have done limited & occasionalstudy, policy relevant research advocacy & policy discussion in education.Whatever is the findings it has impact to some extent on reformingeducation.
Research capacity and culture in education is comparatively remain lessdeveloped. Yet effects are being made by both public and private institutesto come up with research towards policy formulation in national level.In order to make the education need based & demand driven, researchculture must be stimulated especially in higher education institutions &universities.Recommendations1. The necessities of research before any reform is not only felt but neededin the changing world. to meet the queries we need to research.2. Research should be need based, demand driven, and current researchpriorities should be identified.3. Exchange of views and share of experiences in the changing roles andshifting paradimes of research activities to meet emerging issues should beestablished.4. Linkage and corporations among research institutes should be maintained.5. ‘Research to Reform’ should be institutionalized.6. There should be central /national research institute where all researchwork would be preserved.7. Policy should be supported by research.8. A systematic mapping of research publications should be done and tomonitor duplication of works.9. National Research committee should be formed for overview /previewactivities.10. Professional association of researchers / leaders be formed.11. Reforms should be guided by result of systematic enquiry and research.12. Linkage between research policy and practice be ensured which canaddress policy relevant questions/queries whicha) May have greater impact on improved policy and reform.b) May also emphasis on researchers’ awareness of the specific needs ofpolicy makers and practitioners when they frame and conduct their research.c) May help develop a collaborative framework for addressing the commonissues and priorities of objectives.References:‘Education Commission Report’, Prof. Miah, Moniruzaman, 2003.‘Bangladesh Basic Factor’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2006.‘World Bank Reports’ on Education.Documents Prepared by NAEM on Education Related Issues.